Sealing your criminal record

Having a criminal record can make it difficult to move on with life. Criminal records can make it harder to find a job, get certain licenses, locate housing, or pursue educational opportunities.

But, under New York law, you can seal some criminal convictions.

What does sealing a conviction do?

Once sealed, the record of a criminal conviction will still exist but will be hidden from the public. It will not show up on your criminal records search (record of arrests and prosecutions, or RAP sheet).

The only people who can see a sealed conviction are:

  • you or someone you give permission to
  • employers only when you apply for a law enforcement job
  • government agencies carrying out court and law enforcement duties (like immigration or probation)
  • government agencies when you apply for firearm licenses
  • the FBI when running background checks related to firearm possession or purchase

Am I eligible to seal my conviction?

There are different rules and procedures for sealing convictions. Some convictions are sealed automatically, but most require that you apply. Below we describe when you can seal a conviction.

Determining eligibility can be complicated. Consult with an attorney to see if your record meets the criteria.

Automatic sealing

Arrests that result in a dismissal, acquittal, or non-criminal outcome (like a plea to an infraction or violation) should be sealed automatically.

With the passage of the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, certain convictions involving marijuana or cannabis will also be automatically sealed. Other marijuana convictions may be eligible for resentencing. Learn more about marijuana convictions and sealing.

Primary record-sealing law: Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) section 160.59

CPL 160.59 allows people with two or fewer convictions to apply to seal their record. To seal your record under CPL section 160.59, all of the following must be true:

  • You have no more than two criminal convictions in your lifetime. If you have more than two convictions, you may still be eligible if your convictions are related to the same one or two incidents.
  • You have no more than one felony conviction.
  • At least 10 years have passed since you were sentenced for your last conviction or since you were incarcerated (whichever is later.) Any time you spent on probation or parole counts towards these 10 years, but time you served in jail or prison does not.

You will be ineligible to apply if any of the following are true:

  • You are required to register as a sex offender.
  • You have an open criminal case.
  • You are applying to seal an ineligible offense, including a violent felony, Class A felony, homicide felony, sex offense, sexual performance by a child offense, or a felonious attempt or conspiracy to commit any of these ineligible offenses.
  • The conviction is for an out-of-state or federal offense.

The New York Courts website has more information about the application process and the documents to collect.

Note that: 

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, sealing a conviction under CPL section 160.59 does not seal the conviction for immigration purposes.
  • Expunged convictions, youthful offender (YO) offenses, juvenile delinquency offenses, and non-criminal violations do not count toward your total number of convictions.
  • You will be fingerprinted as a part of your application.

Conditional sealing law: CPL section 160.58

CPL section 160.58 applies to records of drug-related convictions. New York judges may conditionally seal records relating to certain drug-related crimes. All of the following must be true:

  • You have successfully completed a substance-abuse-treatment program recognized by the court, such as Judicial Diversion Program or Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program.
  • You have completed any other sentence imposed by the court.
  • No other charges are pending against you.

For sealing under CPL section 160.58, the following New York Penal Law (PL) offenses are eligible:

Drug offenses:

  • Any class B, C, D or E controlled-substance (drug) or marijuana felony offense
  • Controlled-substance (drug) or marijuana misdemeanor offenses

Other offenses if drug-related, meaning they were committed due to a person’s substance abuse:

  • PL 140.20 ― Burglary in the third degree
  • PL 145.05 ― Criminal mischief in the third degree
  • PL 145.10 ― Criminal mischief in the second degree
  • PL 155.30 ― Grand larceny in the fourth degree
  • PL 155.35 ― Grand larceny in the third degree, unless the property includes firearms, rifles, or shotguns
  • PL 165.06 ― Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the second degree
  • PL 165.45 ― Criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree
  • PL 165.50 ― Criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, unless the property includes firearms, rifles, or shotguns
  • PL 170.10 ― Forgery in the second degree
  • PL 170.25 ― Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree
  • PL170.60 ― Unlawfully using slugs in the first degree
  • An attempt to commit any of the offenses listed above

Unlike other sealing laws, CPL section 160.58 allows only for conditional sealing. This means that, if you are arrested again for a misdemeanor or felony, the cases will be unsealed. If you are not convicted on the new charges, however, old convictions will be resealed. Fingerprints and palmprint cards, booking photos, and DNA samples are not destroyed for conditionally sealed convictions.

There is no application form for a CPL section 160.58 request to seal. You must make a motion to the court that sentenced you.

Human trafficking victims

If you were convicted of a crime as a result of being a victim of human trafficking, you may be able to apply to remove (vacate) your conviction from your record under CPL section 440.10(1)(i).

Youthful offenders

A judge may determine that a person who committed a crime when they were at least 14 and under 19 years old should receive a status of Youthful Offender (YO) during their sentencing. A YO status provides for automatic sealing of the records related to that conviction. If you were previously denied YO status, you can apply for it retroactively under CPL section 720.20(5) if all of the following are true:

  • You were eligible to receive YO status at the time of the conviction, meaning:
    • You were at least 14 and under 19 at the time the crime is committed;
    • You had no prior felony convictions; and
    • You had never been treated as a youthful offender before.
  • It has been five years since you were sentenced or released from incarceration, whichever was later.
  • You have not been convicted of a new crime.

I am not eligible for sealing. What can I do?

You can request a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct from the courts. These certifications may lift certain employment and licensing restrictions, although your conviction will still be part of the public record.

Additional resources

If you believe someone has discriminated against you or denied you a job or housing because of a criminal conviction, contact:

Office of the New York State Attorney General
Civil Rights Bureau
28 Liberty Street
New York NY 10005
(212) 416-8250

For general information on the new law, contact:

New York State Unified Court System
25 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004
(800) 268-7869

To find out if your conviction is eligible for sealing, contact:

The Case Closed Project at The Legal Aid Society
(212) 298-3120

To learn how clearing your record may affect your immigration case, contact:

Immigrant Defense Project Hotline
(212) 725-6422

To request a copy of your RAP sheet, visit or contact:

Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-9847 or (518) 485-7675